All organisations have a brand that they need to manage.
A brand is closely associated with the reputation of the organisation and its products and services.
Here’s an example:
The Apple Brand Personality
Apple has a branding strategy that focuses on the emotions. The Apple brand personality is about lifestyle; imagination; liberty regained; innovation; passion; hopes, dreams and aspirations; and power-to-the-people through technology. The Apple brand personality is also about simplicity and the removal of complexity from people's lives; people-driven product design; and about being a really humanistic company with a heartfelt connection with its customers.
Similarly, every council has a brand, with associated brand attributes or “brand personality”. Some attributes are intentional, some are probably not. But they are there. For example, some councils would be regarded by their community as innovative, cost effective, flexible, contemporary and customer-focused. Others may be seen as stodgy, slow moving, bureaucratic. Or any points in between.
Likewise – cities have brands too – and sometimes councils get confused and try to adopt the brand attributes of their city. Certainly, a council can adopt values that support the brand attributes of the place – but let’s talk about that another day.
Confusing council and city branding is commonplace, so just remember - councils are service providers, policy makers, custodians of public assets - but they are not places.
So, concentrating on the council brand - a brand is not just your logo and image style, it’s distilled from your vision, your strategic directions, your public profile, your reputation, and most importantly, how your staff and elected members behave.
What do you want your brand to be? Have you thought about it?
Like beauty, a brand is in the eye of the beholder. So, no matter if you think your council is innovative, customer focused and brilliantly executing the management of your ratepayer funds, if the ratepayers don’t recognise it – your brand won’t actually be what you think.
It’s important to not only think about what is a desirable brand – but also to then measure it, as you would any other KPI or council objective.
You can establish where your brand attributes sit on a continuum – and then , with research, measure how that attribute is actually perceived by your community.
You can then plot your brand measurements on a spider chart like this:
Blue line is the desired brand perception
Red line is the actual brand perception
If your brand perception doesn’t match your desired perception – (as in the example above) then either your council is not “living” the brand (i.e. something about your services or behaviour is not consistent) or there is a communication issue (you may be doing all the right things, but no-one knows about it….)
Major corporations constantly measure their brand perception to keep their brand on track – you should too. A strong, consistent brand is good for customer (and ratepayer) satisfaction and is also great for staff morale too.
A guest blog post by Jim Myhill, XLR8 Marketing and Communications